On May 22 in Madrid held a meeting with neurologists and epilepsy patients associations across Europe to address the use of cannabidiol, purified from cannabis as medicine for this disease.
During the meeting will be announced some of the first results being obtained in the United States using cannabidiol to treat children with severe epilepsy as part of preliminary studies. If positive clinical trials could start in Europe before year end.
The European meeting is held amid debates assets in the United States on the use of medicinal cannabis to treat epilepsy, which led to President Barak Obama to rule on a possible decriminalization of its use for medicinal purposes.
"It's not about promoting the use of cannabis to treat diseases," said Dr. Ana Mingorance, Director of Research Dravet Syndrome Foundation Spain and responsible for the meeting, "but to assess whether cannabidiol purified could become the drug to thousands affected by drug-resistant epilepsies expect. "
It is estimated that 1% of the world population suffers from epilepsy. Of these, up to a third of patients are drug-resistant, ie fail to control their seizures adequately available drugs. It is in many cases of epileptic syndromes as Dravet syndrome, in which affected mostly children, suffering from a very aggressive epilepsy that can cause death.
"The majority of rare diseases have no effective treatment. Patients with these diseases are very vulnerable because they are not attractive to the pharmaceutical industry. The world of rare diseases need an innovative approach to accelerate the development of new drugs, "says Julian Isla, President of Dravet Syndrome Foundation Spain, and the father of a child with this disease.
There is talk of marijuana or cannabis for medicinal refer to strains highly enriched cannabidiol, which is believed responsible for its medicinal activity, and low levels of tetrahidrocannabidiol (THC), the psychoactive compound responsible for its recreational effects. The main problem for the medical use of cannabis lies in the variation between different cultures and legal problems arising from his psychoactive activity. To avoid these problems, the British pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals has purified cannabidiol, which under the name Epidiolex could begin clinical trials in Europe this year.
Epidiolex is already being tested in one hundred children with drug-resistant epilepsies in the United States to confirm their safety before starting clinical trials. These results will be presented during the meeting, which also involves a meeting between neurologists and patient organizations not only Dravet syndrome but other epilepsies and related syndromes.
"The Dravet Syndrome Foundation is an organization promoting research. Our goal is to create an ecosystem of research about Dravet syndrome that allows us to accelerate the development of new drugs. We wanted to organize this conference to increase awareness that the scientific community has on cannabinoids for medicinal use because it can be an effective treatment for certain patients with Dravet syndrome, "says Julian Island.
In Spain there is only one precedent of approved drug derived from cannabis. It is Sativex, also developed by GW Pharma, which contains THC and cannabidiol equally and is used to treat pain and spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis. GW Pharma specializes in isolating these medicinal compounds from the marijuana plant. Once isolated, they have the potential to become new medicines after undergoing the evaluation of drug agencies in each country.
"The cannabidiol is a compound produced naturally by the marijuana plant, but this natural does not mean it's safe. Nature has also invented many poisons such as hemlock or toxins such as tetanus. Like any other compound intended to be used as medicine, cannabidiol must pass a rigorous evaluation through clinical trials to prove not only their efficacy but safety and it is precisely for which we have called on the medical community and patients to this meeting, "explains Dr. Mingorance-Le Meur.
The meeting in Madrid will participate GW Pharma as well as a fifty neurologists, researchers and representatives of patient associations across Europe.